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What's We Can

We Can!™ City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

UPMC Health Plan

We Can! empowers parents in Western Pennsylvania with innovative resources to help their families maintain healthy lifestyles. We are proud to be part of this initiative to help youth in our region achieve better health.”
—Diane P. Holder, President, UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Insurance Services Division

Pittsburgh has many “claims to fame”: it’s the hometown of Gene Kelly and Christina Aguilera, the city where Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine, and it’s a vibrant We Can! city, focused on promoting health and physical activity among its families and youth. UPMC Health Plan—a division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center—and its numerous partners—the City of Pittsburgh, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Children’s Community Pediatrics, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and the H.J. Heinz Company—have commited to implementing We Can! programs throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh City Sign

Not only did Mayor Luke Ravenstahl declare Pittsburgh a We Can! City on November 29, 2007—it was also the day that a partnership between We Can! and the Association of Children’s Museums was announced at a launch in Boston and corresponding events across the country (New York, NY; Las Vegas and Carson City, NV; Memphis and Oak Ridge, TN; Rockford, IL—and Pittsburgh, PA as well). Read more about it here.

At that time, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Deputy Director also welcomed H.J. Heinz Company as a new corporate We Can! partner, gave remarks, and watched as a handful of children made a fitness presentation. Read more below. You can also skip ahead to each of the following topics by clicking on them.

Key Successes

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Pittsburgh’s We Can! initiative is that one of its key partners—UPMC Health Plan—also supports the HEALTHY Armstrong coalition in nearby Armstrong County. This coalition continues its activities into 2009; read more about their program here. UPMC Health Plan’s involvement has also contributed to an increased awareness of We Can! thanks to the UPMC Health Plan Web site. The site has integrated We Can! messaging, and dedicated an entire section to our movement, with links to downloadable, co-branded We Can! materials. See for yourself at

UPMC Health Plan Web Site

There’s also a cool “Go, Slow, Whoa” interactive module and game that UPMC Health Plan adapted from NHLBI in an innovative manner.

UPMC Go Slow Whoa Page

Better yet, 27,069 weekly visitors to the UPMC Health Plan Web site are often directed to the “Go, Slow, Whoa” module directly from the Web site’s main page:

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In honor of the collaboration described above, UPMC Health Plan donated $25,000 to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to support We Can!-based programs that will teach children behaviors that can help them maintain a healthy weight. These funds are being used to support a slew of programs at the museum that have reinforced the messages of We Can! More than 4,800 children have participated in events focused on We Can!, as well as other events focused on healthy eating and physical activity. You can find these events on the museum’s online calendar at (To identify We Can!-oriented events and programs, scroll down and look for “We Can! Events” under Categories.)

Events included a program held in March 2009, held in honor of National Nutrition Month, entitled “We Can! Get Moving, Get Healthy!” Every Tuesday, participants tested their knowledge of healthy diet and exercise through games presented by a nutritionist and students at the University of Pittsburgh. Other recent and ongoing activities that have reinforced the messages of We Can! include a free family yoga activity held every week and kicked off in January 2009; performances by a music therapist who teaches kids about nutrition and their bodies through original music and games; and a presentation on “eating a rainbow” of fruits and vegetables, taught by the Pittsburgh Dietetic Association. Family dance parties, held at the museum’s on-site theater, with dance tunes, bubbles and lighting effects encouraged people to get up and get down and rounded out the activities over the past year.

Pittsburgh Show

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Several Western Pennsylvania organizations have stepped up to support UPMC Health Plan’s commitment to We Can! They include:

    • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
    • City of Pittsburgh
    • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
    • Children’s Community Pediatrics
    • H.J. Heinz Company

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Outreach & Events

One of the best ways to reach the greatest number of people is through an effective Web site—and as noted above, UPMC Health Plan has just the ticket. Not only are We Can!-based messages woven into its site, there’s also a video vignette which talks about the program’s success in neighboring county Armstrong County, profiles Pittsburgh becoming a We Can! City, and more.

In mid-October 2008, UPMC Health Plan representatives took this vignette with them to show members of a school district’s Wellness Committee in Crawford County, PA, what We Can! is all about. You can see the vignette by cutting and pasting this address into your browser:

In addition to online and broadcast outreach, We Can! messaging is being spread through a broad array of activities organized by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, including a hackey sack “jam” in March 2009, a theater production that promoted better nutrition and less screen time, as well as snowshoeing, martial arts, cycling, golf, fencing, and jumprope activities.

Pittsburgh We Can! Class

Future plans include:

    • Creation of additional programming, educational materials, and youth and family activities, with all program partners participating.
    • Summer 2009 activities:
      • Great American Backyard Campout at the Children’s Museum: This simulated campout will feature an afternoon of “campout” fun, including sing-alongs, storytelling, hiking tips, and healthy recipe suggestions (i.e., creating healthy trail mix).
      • The Chicago Youth Circus: This troupe of inner-city Chicago youth travels internationally, winning high honors in competitions and training with elite circus artists like Cirque du Soleil. One of their performance themes is combating childhood obesity through highly engaging physical activity like circus arts. Their visit will also include workshops to teach visitors juggling, unicycle, and other activities.

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Contact Information

For more information on Pittsburgh’s We Can! platform, please send a letter to:

UPMC Health Plan
One Chatham Center
112 Washington Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

For additional contact information, send an email to

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We Can! and the We Can! logo are trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).